inside of an old subway train

The Riverside Museum Glasgow and city sight-seeing bus tour

Our first stop on our late summer Scottish mini roadtrip was Glasgow. I’d love to do Edinburgh with N another time, but I didn’t fancy the busy time with the Edinburgh festival and Fringe going on while we were there. We did still find it hard to get accommodation likely due to it, but enjoyed our stay at the Doubletree Hilton Glasgow Central.  We knew we’d not have much time to spend sightseeing, so decided a tour bus trip would be a good way to see the city. This meant we could decide what we wanted to see the following afternoon, and we decided the Riverside Museum would be the best bet.

riverside museum

Glasgow is walkable in the centre, but it is hilly (hillier than I’d expected, especially up to our hotel).  But there is a subway and buses, so you can ease your feet that way if needed.

Glasgow City sight seeing tour

Trying to find where the 1st main stop of the open top sight-seeing tour bus was a nightmare. The map and leaflet we had from the hotel, and online was telling us it was St George’s Square, but lots of that is now pedestrianised so the bus wasn’t stopping there. Thankfully we then spotted a bus coming round the corner so we could see where it was stopping, just around the corner in George St. Unfortunately we weren’t fast enough running so missed it. But that gave us time to sit at the bus stop, get booked on and wait for the next bus. 

The buses run fairly regularly, and even on a Sunday, they run until quite a way into the evening (earlier in autumn and winter seasons). We just wanted to find our bearings and see everything, so we didn’t need to get on and off.

Like most tour buses, they provide you with a route leaflet, and free headphones. Children may struggle to keep them in because of the size, so you could try using your own. The tour commentary is available in 8 different languages.

It was a popular sightseeing tour (although ours seemed busier than all the other buses we spotted) with all the seats upstairs taken. Unfortunately the person I sat next to had used my earphone socket because hers was broken but at the next stop others left the bus so we were able to sit together and then both hear the tour commentary.

Glasgow has lots of beautiful architecture, old and modern, with history behind it, so there was lots of interesting information and sites to see. One such place is the university with its strange cut out turret above the other buildings, but there were plenty of other places to learn about.

glasgow red town houses
white arch of georgian houses

We also got to see the tall ship Glenlee, along with a lot of good street art.  Glasgow has plenty of street art including some trails you can follow, so worth following some of those for a walk around the city if you have more time than us.


It was a shame we just didn’t have time to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as that looked quite spectacular and was recommended to visit.

glasgow university buildings

We decided to disembark near our hotel to avoid walking back up – it was quite near the end of the tour route so worked out well for us.

We love the city sightseeing tours to see places we want to visit. If you want to hop on hop off around Glasgow, you can buy a 2 day ticket to make the most of it and avoid too much walking.

We paid £25 for an adult and child for 1 day ticket, and bought online while waiting for the bus to arrive.

The Riverside Museum Glasgow

The Riverside Museum Glasgow was one of the highlights of our roadtrip. It’s a free museum (like many of the other museums in Glasgow). You just pay for parking or get public transport, cycle, walk or hop off the city tour bus. It’s an award winning transport museum, and well worth a visit.

front of the riverside museum glasgow

With over 3000 items on display from Glasgow’s past through the ages, there’s nostalgia with Chopper bikes, and older items on display too.

From psychedelic camper vans, old police cars, numerous cars – in a clever wall display, to trains, trams and bikes. There’s something interesting to see everywhere you turn.

fish eye view looking up and down the riverside transport museum
large motorbike trike on display with other vehicles
wall display of cars through the last hundred years

We didn’t follow any route, just wandered at will when we saw something else interesting to look at.

On many of the trains and trams you could climb up and stand on the platform area to look inside. There was also an old subway train you could sit in – with quite beautifully designed interiors.

old double decker tram on display
inside of an old subway train
old steam train front view
Red mini on display
skateboarder display

It wasn’t all just transport. There was also a look back into recent nostalgia and retro times, with clothing, toys, prams and other items on display.

dresses in riverside museum

We liked walking down the old cobbled shopping street. You can go into the different shops to see what they’d have been selling. We even had a go at taking photos old school style under the black material.

lifesize horse models pulling a carriage
reproduction of old cobbled shopping street with old horse pulled wagons and cars

As well as the transport museum, you can also go outside on the riverside and visit the Tall Ship Glenlee. This is also free (for both you can donate at the entrance).

The Tall Ship, Glenlee

Built in Clyde, setting off for its first trip to load up with cargo in 1896. As well as travelling around the world several times for cargo purposes, it was owned by Italians. Then the Spanish Navy bought the ship as a training vessel, using it for 47 years. 

white wooden lifeboat amongst the ropes and masts on Glenlee

On the ship you can ring the ship’s bell, mop the decking, and find out more about life on a ship.

ships bell on tall ship glenlee
wooden ship's wheel on Glenlee tall ship

Some of the cabins are set up as they would have been, galley, Captains rooms, and others. Going down below deck to the bottom, you see it all opened up. There’s a cafe and gift shop on board too.  You can read more about the voyages the Glenlee travelled on.

galley display on tall ship
mess room on tall ship glenlee
view along the river clyde

N definitely got over his worries about being on boats on this holiday, and he was really interested in seeing everything, including the navigation area on the bridge.  Maybe we should be going back to Portsmouth dockyards some time in future!

We finished off back in the Riverside Museum again.

While both the museum and the Tall Ship were fairly busy, it was easy to get where you wanted and see what you wanted. We only had to wait for one toddler who wouldn’t leave the train ‘cab’.

I was pleased we fitted in the Riverside Museum inbetween a morning trip to Inveraray and a swim in the hotel pool. It was interesting for me with the nostalgia of old bikes and cars from my childhood, as well as being interesting for a tween. Really, any age would enjoy it. 

Visiting The Riverside Museum

The Riverside museum opens all year round, apart from over Christmas (so check the website before visiting around those dates). Weekdays may have school trips going round, so it’s worth going early or late to avoid those.

There’s also a cafe if you need to stop for a break. There’s not much else around the site if you want food. Although there was an ice cream van in the car park when we left.

Read about other transport museums we’ve visited:

What other transport museums would you recommend?

Love it? Share it